Welcome to EW‘s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat to the founder of Beachbody Dubai, Veronique Gregorec. Having moved to Dubai in 2013, Gregorec found there was a gap in the swimwear space in this region. She wanted to “bridge the gap” for many women who found it difficult shopping for swimwear which led to her launching the first size-inclusive and body normative swimwear brand in the UAE.
Emirates Woman sat down with the UAE-based entrepreneur to find out the story behind the brand and what she hopes for the future of Beachbody Dubai.
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What was your favourite subject at school?
My favourite subject at school was German Literature. I always loved studying languages & somehow, I fell in love with German! German is usually not a language people love since it’s quite a complex language to grasp. What I loved the most was analyzing German poetry and finding the deeper meaning behind the words the different authors were using.
What was your first job?
My first job was at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates as a Front Desk Management Trainee in 2008 when I was 18 years old. It was a really fun job and I got to meet a lot of interesting people. I was working day and night shifts, so I really got a 360 insight into what happens in a hotel.
What eventually bought you to Dubai?
I came to Dubai in 2007 and instantly fell in love with the vibrancy of the city. A year later in 2008, I scored my internship and I stayed in Dubai for 6 months. Dubai has always felt like home to me since the first time I landed, so after university, in 2013 I decided to move permanently to the city and build my life & career over here.
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Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your brand Beachbody? Did you see a gap in the swimwear space in this region?
I was always a middle-sized / plus-sized woman and my weight has fluctuated a lot over the years. I’ve always struggled to find trendy and fashionable clothes to wear. Flattering swimwear was impossible to find. I often had the choice between the boring black one-piece suit, or athletic swimsuits. Nowadays there are more options on the market, but plus-size women are still being segregated into a specific category (namely high waist bikinis and floral one-pieces!). This is the gap I wanted to bridge as I, myself, was unable to find any swimwear in Dubai – online or in the malls! Most of the swimwear in this country is only available in sizes S to L – with plus-sized women, being once more left out of the equation.
I started working on Beachbody about a year ago; I did a lot of research in terms of styles, swimwear and suppliers who would be able to deliver the size range I was looking for. It was very challenging to decide color palettes, styles, designs that would potentially be a good fit for sizes S to 4 XL.
In your opinion, what is the hero piece of your debut collection?
The Signature Leopard Swimsuit – it just fits EVERYBODY and looks gorgeous as a swimsuit, or a bodysuit paired with a skirt or jeans! It offers the right amount of coverage and support that you would need to feel confident, sexy and empowered.
What are the key elements of your role?
At the moment, Beachbody is a one-woman show – so from dealing with the supplier to packaging the orders; I have a 360 role. Right now, my role is to focus on brand awareness and raising the trust factor of the brand. Like with any new brand, customers need reassurance and trust in the brand.
Talk us through your daily routine.
No two days are the same for me really! I am an early bird – I usually wake up around 6/630am – even on weekends. The first thing I do is feed my two cats & get my caffeine fix.
After that, I catch up on any orders and package any pending orders that have been placed overnight. My full-time job is working for a production company, so I head to the office around 10am. I have catch-up meetings with the team and attend photo and video shoots if needed. In the evening, I attend to Beachbody priorities & make necessary adjustments on the website, schedule upcoming social media campaigns and emailers and go through the daily stats of the website.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Never give up! Launching any kind of business is stressful and challenging. There will be days where you will feel like the entire world is against you – where nothing goes right and you think about throwing in the towel. But don’t – you’ll learn so much along the way and every challenge will come with its own lesson to be learned. I’ve made so many mistakes along the way and doubted myself lots – but nothing can compare to that feeling of having achieved one of your dreams.
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What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Follow your dreams and take that risk! My parents have always been my biggest supporters; I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mind and always came up with business ideas and they always supported; no matter how crazy that idea was. Many of my business ideas remained ideas only – but Beachbody came true and I am really proud of that!
And what is the worst?
“This is too risky – it’s better for you to stay where you are” – staying in a comfort zone was never for me. I get bored and demotivated. I am fueled by challenge and ambition, always looking for the next step to take in my life. People who remain in their comfort zone don’t grow; and that’s just not for me.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
Dealing with the suppliers! Without a doubt that has been one of the biggest challenges that caused the delay in launching the brand. Sometimes suppliers don’t really understand your vision and it’s hard for them to understand that orange and tangerine colors are not the same! But I’ve learned so much about negotiation and how to overall deal with suppliers to make it smooth and easy next time.
What are your goals for 2021?
My goals for 2021 are to grow Beachbody into a brand people love & trust! I am looking at launching a second collection too focusing on bolder colors/ prints and taking on board all I’ve learned to make the collection even better, elevating it to be even more flattering for all body types. I am thinking of even working on a size-inclusive men’s line – as again there’s a major gap in the market for size-inclusive men’s swimwear. More than selling swimwear, I want Beachbody to be a pioneer for size inclusivity and for other brands to follow in our footsteps to make affordable size-inclusive fashion for both men & women.
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